STILLWATER — As the city continues to attract more people and businesses, growing pains have become the primary issue in the upcoming city council election.
Two incumbents on the council are challenged in the April 2 election.
Councilor Joe Weaver, running for his second term, faces Oklahoma State University employee Micah Lefebvre, and councilor Philip Pina, who was appointed in April 2012, faces OSU professor Gina Noble.
Stillwater has been one of the fastest-growing cities in the state for the past 10 years, according to U.S. census data, and recent years have brought an influx of chain businesses and residential construction projects.
With the growth has come controversy, including a recent zoning issue.
In February, the city council voted against rezoning a tract of land for development of an apartment complex following protests from a nearby neighborhood association.
Frank Kerns, the owner of the land, has filed a lawsuit to prevent the city from enforcing its zoning restrictions.
Noble, a resident of the nearby neighborhood, spoke publicly against the rezoning proposition.
She said she decided to run for city council long before the zoning issue came up, but it cemented her resolve to run.
“I think that while we're growing, we need to protect the character of established neighborhoods, and we need to protect investments and interests of homeowners and business owners,” she said.
Noble has been teaching at OSU for eight years, and she said in addition to zoning issues, the city needs to pay attention to quality of life and infrastructure.
“They all connect and are related,” she said. “Especially in a growth period, I think we need to pay attention to all three.”
Noble said she would like to see Stillwater become a destination where people will come to visit and live.
Pina, who works with special-needs children at Stillwater Junior High and voted against rezoning the land, said he is also concerned with how the city will grow in coming years.
“Infrastructure is always one of those things we would like to improve,” Pina said.